this conversation is really over

Al Mohler has an interesting review of John Franke’s new book, Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth. Franke’s book seems to align with the emergent author I mentioned in “this conversation is over.”  Indeed, that author cites Franke’s book as support for viewing the Bible as our community library rather than our constitutional authority.

Reading Mohler’s review reminded me of something which came up in Barth class today.  Rudolf Bultmann attempted to distance himself from liberalism with these words:  “Shall we retain the ethical preaching of Jesus and abandon his eschatological preaching?  Shall we reduce his preaching of the Kingdom of God to the so-called social gospel?  Or is there a third possibility?”

Bultmann then went on to give his “third way,” which though technically different from liberalism in some aspects (i.e., his “de-mythologizing” program was slightly different from the liberal attempt to remove the Bible’s “myths,”), pretty much landed in the same place.

Here’s the lesson:  Beware of liberals who offer a third way.  It’s always something you’ve seen before.






7 responses to “this conversation is really over”

  1. I guess I would offer another warning – as in science, beware of whom you marry, for tomorrow you will be a widow.
    Augustine – imbibes a bit too much Plato.
    Aquinas – drinks heavily from the well of Aristotle.
    Kierkegaard, Schliermacher and seemingly an unending list of current Christians – getting sloshed on Kant.
    Bultmann – soused on good little nazi reichskind Heidegger.
    Maclaren, Bell, Pagitt, et all – wasted away from the fumes of Derrida, Ricouer, Lyotard, Foucoult and other poisonous vapors.
    And now all drinking from the pantheistic well of Hegel through the urn of Multmann. Great – just great…

    When will the church learn?

    (Sorry about all the silly drunk and stoner metaphors – they just seemed appropriate for the kind of thinking going on in those circles)

    And to anyone who might attempt the “well you evangelicals did the same with Cartesian Foundationalism (which I doubt they really understand anyway1), my thinking was formed by middle eastern and African shepherds and prophets, and if Descartes had never lived my theology wouldn’t be changed one bit. But without Heidegger Bultmann is just another – yawn- German liberal with nothing but destruction of the historic faith on his mind. And so on.

  2. Dr. Wittmer,

    I have a bit of confusion that could use some clarity on your behalf. On numerous occasions I have heard you refer to yourself as a ‘reformed’ theologian.

    Yet, you often cite or mention Al Mohler as an authoritative voice. He’s actually a conservative voice even within his own denomination which isn’t reformed. Furthermore, you teach at a baptist leaning school and hold membership at a conservative baptist church.

    I’m not against Dr. Mohler, GRTS, or your church, but these to claim being a reformed voice while holding to the perspectives of Dr. Mohler seems a bit….?

    If you would read the entire Franke book, have conversations with Franke about the book since you will undoubtedly have questions, then perhaps you would come to the belief that John Franke may be more reformed than Dr. Mohler rather than check it up at another emergent church book that has nothing to do with the gospel.


  3. Dr. Al Mohler

    Reading through your review, I had two thoughts. First, it is always the role of the church to pursue truth. Secondly, what happens when we fall undoubtedly short and fail to honestly recognize these failures.

    If we don’t embrace the moving of the Spirit through multiple traditions, i.e. Catholic, Reformed, Baptist, Orthodox, then are we suggesting that our own brand of Christianity is the only view that will allow us to really be a follower of Jesus? Then, what happens when our tradition doesn’t hold biblical weight on a particular issue?

    For example, many within the baptist tradition continue to support the idea that alcohol consumption is counter to the biblical text. Yet, there is not serious biblical evidence to support this position. Even many of your leading scholars suggest such.

    So, I have two choices. I can chose to support the tradition believing the Spirit has led a group of God’s people in this particular direction. Or I can believe this particular group of people are not honoring the text. Which of the two is the correct and truthful position?

    So, how am I as a reformed Christian to view my baptist brothers and sisters? Are they simply poor followers of Jesus? Or has God led them somewhere I need not go because it’s not demanded by the text but it doesn’t necessitate unfaithfulness of their part either.

    In Christ,
    Randy Buist

  4. Yooper

    It has been stressed many times at this blog the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, in not one instance do I recall that the abstinence of alcohol was referenced as one of them.

    I also find it ironic that this self-appointed crusader of social ills would use such an argument in the first place.

  5. Tyler W.

    Hey Randy,

    As a Southern Baptist who’s familiar with our “leading” scholars, I can attest to the fact that no one I know believes the prohibition of alcohol comes from Scripture. Most everyone I know, including Dr. Mohler himself, believe it’s simply an issue of Southern culture (specifically Southern Baptist culture). It’s mainly a contextual question, an issue of getting one’s living by the gospel (1 Cor 9). If you want to minister in SB contexts, 7-8 times out of 10, you’ll need to abstain from alcohol. I don’t know of a single professor at SBTS who believes alcohol is prohibited in Scripture (in fact, I’ve heard a few denounce any such prohibitions).

    And whether or not you can legitimately call yourself “Reformed” unless you drink and splash water on babies: it’s a contested definition.

    Just to clear that up!


  6. Jonathan Shelley


    Thanks! I needed that laugh today (three days after you posted it).

  7. Tertullian2009


    I would think someone with your background in the CRC educational realm would realize that “Reformed” refers to a broad theological movement that traces it heritage back to men like Calvin and Bullinger and adheres to the Confessions drawn up within that tradition and not to narrow denominational definitions. GARB, SB, CRC, RCA, PCA are all Reformed insofar as they trace their theological heritage back to our friends in Zurich and Geneva. Although, I have to admit that I find the irony of someone who rejects labels misapplying labels to others absolutely delicious!

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